LSU Defeats Vanderbilt In Regular-Season Finale
Communications Student Assistant
BATON ROUGE, La. --- The LSU women’s basketball team defeated Vanderbilt 64-58 in their final game of the regular season here at the Maravich Center Sunday afternoon.
With the win, LSU improved to 19-10 overall; 8-8 SEC, and have secured a No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament next week. Vanderbilt fell to 14-15 overall and 4-12 in league action. The Lady Tigers closed out the regular season with a 13-3 record at home, with two of those losses coming to nationally-ranked UCONN and South Carolina. The 19 wins ties for the second-most regular-season wins under LSU head coach Nikki Fargas' tutelage.
Seniors Jasmine Rhodes, Rina Hill and Alexis Hyder were honored prior to the game in a Senior Tribute presentation.
Raigyne Moncrief and Hyder led the Lady Tigers’ efforts with 17 points and seven rebounds apiece. Moncrief also finished with six steals, giving her 102 on the season for the LSU single-season record. She surpassed Danielle Ballard who tallied 100 steals in 2012-13. Chloe Jackson added 15 points of her own along with five rebounds and two steals. Rhodes dished out a career-high five assists in the win.
The Lady Tigers forced Vanderbilt to turn the ball over 24 times and scored 23 points off the miscues. LSU has forced 20 or more turnovers in 16 games this season. In SEC games, LSU is 8-0 when forcing 20-plus turnovers. The Lady Tigers also dominated in the paint, scoring 30 points to Vandy’s 16.
For Vanderbilt, Rachel Bell led the team in points with 17. Minta Spears finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Erin Whalen stayed behind the arc as she hit four three-pointers and finished with 12 points in today’s contest.
In the final game of the regular season, both LSU and Vanderbilt had difficulty getting into an offensive rhythm. For LSU, that changed when Rhodes hit a jump shot that kick started a 17-point first quarter effort. Moncrief and Rhodes each had five points. On the other hand, Vanderbilt spent a better part of the first quarter trying to gain some offensive footing as they only were able to score three points until the 2:20 mark in the first quarter. They would finish the quarter with just nine total points thanks to three three-pointers. Vanderbilt’ offensive struggles were due in large part to the Lady Tigers defense which has been great all season long. LSU forced eight turnovers and scored eight points off of the miscues.
The Lady Tigers’ lead bounced around a little bit between single digits and double digits for the first few minutes of the second quarter. After LSU had extended its lead to 10 points again, Vanderbilt went on an 11-4 run which cut the deficit down to three. Hyder ended the run with a three-pointer late in the quarter. Vanderbilt was able to stay in the game during the first half in large part to their three-point shooting. The Commodores lead the SEC in three-point shooting percentage and shot 5-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half. LSU took a 31-27 lead into the locker room at the break.
Vanderbilt took its first and only lead of the game at the 6:32 mark in the third quarter. A little over a minute later, Lady Tiger history was made. At the 5:13 mark in the third quarter, Moncrief jumped a pass and stole the ball taking it all the way in for a layup. That was her fifth steal of the game and 101st steal of the season, breaking Ballard’s record. Moncrief is the leader of the LSU defense which has been in the top five nationally all season in steals.
In the middle of the third quarter, Vanderbilt cooled down dramatically as they had a stretch where they went 0-for-6 from the field shooting the ball. That allowed LSU to end the quarter on an 11-4 run as the Lady Tigers came storming back to take over the lead once again.
With just a four-point lead to start the final quarter, LSU cranked up the pressure defensively. They recorded four steals in the final quarter. Vanderbilt would not go away quietly doing their best to chip away at the LSU lead. The Lady Tigers wouldn’t give their lead away though, as it never fell below four points in the final quarter, allowing LSU to finish the regular season with a, 64-58, victory over Vanderbilt.
The Lady Tigers travel to Greenville, S.C., this week for the SEC Tournament. Games will begin on Wednesday, March 1, but LSU has secured a first-round bye and will begin play on Thursday. The bracket will be announced at the conclusion of all SEC games on Sunday evening.
NOTES & TRENDS
• Starters for LSU were Chloe Jackson, Rina Hill, Alexis Hyder, Raigyne Moncrief & Jasmine Rhodes.
• Raigyne Moncrief grabbed six steals today. On her fifth steal of the game, she set a single-season record for steals. She surpassed Danielle Ballard who tallied 100 steals in 2012-13. Moncrief now totals 102 steals this season and 226 for her career. She has registered five or more steals in nine games this season.
• Moncrief scored 17 points to extend her double-digit scoring streak to 13 games. She has scored in double figures in 27 games this season; and in 64 career games. She has led LSU in scoring in 11 of the last 13 games and 17 times this season.
• With her 17 points, Alexis Hyder has now scored in double figures in 12 games this season, and in 33 for her career at LSU. This was just the second game this season she had led LSU in scoring.
• Chloe Jackson scored 15 points for her 20th double-figure scoring game this year.
• Raigyne Moncrief had three blocks in the game, which tied her career mark. She also had three blocks in the Lady Tigers’ last game against Auburn on Thursday.
• Jasmine Rhodes dished out a career-high five assists today. Her previous high was four, which she has registered on five other occasions.
• LSU has now won the last seven-straight games against Vanderbilt played at the PMAC. In series history, LSU is 14-4 in games against VU in Baton Rouge.
• The Lady Tigers closed out the season with a 13-3 record at home. The 13 wins ties Nikki Fargas’ best regular season home record of 13-3 in 2012-13. That year, LSU also won two NCAA Tournament games in Baton Rouge for a total home record of 15-3. In her six seasons at the helm of the program, Fargas has secured 12 home regular-season wins in three campaigns.
LSU HEAD COACH NIKKI FARGAS
“When you reflect back on the season and look at where we were a year ago, our situation has definitely reversed. To see this team grow these past few months and evolve into one of the best teams in the SEC and today we had one of our last home games and we wanted to end on a good note. We wanted to feel good going into the SEC Tournament and I thought our underclassmen, with the play of Alexis Hyder as a second year in the program, even though we are calling her a senior, have really stepped up as of late, becoming a force in the paint and giving us scoring and great defensive effort.
Raigyne Moncrief is another player who has consistently shown that she is one of the best players in the country. Having those two young ladies step up like they did tonight was huge. The play of Chloe Jackson, another outstanding underclassman, who we will have back next year. I cannot say enough about our two fourth-year seniors, Rina Hill and Jasmine Rhodes, two young ladies who when they first got here helped us get to our first Sweet 16. They have been a joy to coach and we are going to try to extend the season as long as we can with those three seniors and make sure we send them out on a great note.”
On getting a first round bye going into the SEC Tournament…
“That is a good feeling to have. We were just there last year where we had to go four games to try and get to the championship. This is a good win for us in the sense of knowing that we can finish games. We are that team that has had Texas A&M down 15 at their place, had Vanderbilt down 10 at their place, had Auburn down 7 or 8, and Georgia 7 or 8. We are that team and we were that team that did not finish the game, and today we showed that we can still do those things and we have learned how to finish the game and come away with the win. That is something we have to build on and we have to do it collectively. Everybody has to pitch in, and today I thought we had different people stepping up at different times and that is what you have to have.”
On a possible NCAA Tournament appearance…
“I definitely feel as though our resume is a strong resume for a nod on Selection Monday. We have had a tough schedule and we played a lot of good teams on the road. A lot of our losses in SEC play, four of our last six on the road, a tough stretch for us but we also had some good wins on our schedule. I think this team is very much an NCAA team and a team that has led the nation in forced turnovers, so defensively we are capable of really getting after people, so I hope they recognize our strength of schedule and obviously our RPI. At one point two weeks ago, we are 17-0 against teams 25 and higher and that to me stands out. The fact that several of our games have come against top 25 opponents, you obviously have to win those, but the fact that you are playing them says a lot about this team.”
VANDERBILT HEAD COACH STEPHANIE WHITE
“We aren’t going to win a lot of games when we give teams 23 points off of turnovers. We certainly know LSU is one of the best defensive teams in the league and we sort of played into their hands by not handling their pressure well and for whatever reason we didn’t start the game with a lot of energy. I felt like we have a team (LSU) that’s going through senior night and there is always going to be a lot of energy on senior night and they came out and really took it at us. In the fourth quarter (Alexis) Hyder was fantastic. She took it at us and did everything necessary. You have (Raigyne) Moncrief, who is always a factor, but for us they just took it at us and we didn’t respond.”
On if they have seen pressure like LSU’s pressure …
“We have. I think there are a few things with our team. One, we play a lot of freshmen who haven’t seen this type of pressure. Two, we are trying to play a little faster than what Vanderbilt has typically played in the past so you are having to ask players to make decisions at a faster pace than they usually do. In the past they have been told to make reads A, B, C, D and now we have given them a little more freedom to make reads, so instinctually you question yourself and we have fought that all season long.”
On Raigyne Moncrief’s physical abilities …
“You can’t teach a lot of things she does. Her athleticism with how quickly she gets off the floor, how quickly she gets into passing lanes, and you even see a prime example of that on that offensive rebound off of the free throw. She’s on the left side of the lane, the ball is in the right corner, and she chases it down. I think with that type of natural ability and skill, she’s going to have a long career. I think she’s continued to get better in her decision-making and her offensive execution. She gets off the floor so quickly with her jumper that you want to challenge her to shoot the three, but she takes that one rhythm dribble and gets inside the three in her comfort zone quicker than you can react. I think that she’s a player that’s really just scratching the surface in terms of where she could be.”
On how dangerous of a team LSU can be in the SEC Tournament …
“I think they are very dangerous. Anytime you have a team that can defend the way they do, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity. I felt like they did a really good job tonight controlling the tempo. They were disciplined, and they executed on both ends of the floor. When you combine their natural athleticism with their quickness on the defensive end of the floor, with being diligent and disciplined on the offensive side of the floor they’re a team that can make a lot of noise.”
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